One day, when I was about five years old, Mom treated all of her kids to ice cream cones at Baskan Robbins. I remember feeling overjoyed with the simple treat and happily licked at the sliding, melting vanilla ice cream as we walked down the sidewalk in front of various shops at the strip mall. I took one big lick…and knocked the ice cream right out of the cone and onto the dirty, cracked sidewalk. The very moment the ice cream slurped onto the ground, I burst into a flood of tears. Mom just scooped up the ice cream with her bare hands and stuck it right back on my cone. I was so happy again as I continued skipping on down the sidewalk, licking joyfully at the dirt encrusted ice cream.
Did Mom still expect me to burst into tears over melting ice cream? Did I still expect Mom to make everything better again?
I first knew that Mom was beginning to let me go when I traveled to England to go to school. I actually thought Mom would be upset when I told her I was planning to study abroad. I thought she would be worried when I told her in May of 1992 that I was planning to go to Hull, England in the fall of 1993. I rehearsed for hours how I would break the news to her.
Instead of being upset, though, Mom had answered, “Why are you waiting a year? If you are going to go, go now. What are you waiting for?” I stared at her for a moment, so surprised I couldn’t respond. “Well, it’s not too late this year, right? What are you waiting for?”
I stared into her eyes…and saw the gleam there and I knew. She would have loved to have gone. She would have loved to have this opportunity that I was putting off for another year. Maybe she was afraid that my opportunities would slide away from me as they had from her if I didn’t jump on them now.
I was shocked, but didn’t wait for Mom to think it over. I needed to move now before she realized exactly what she had just encouraged me to do. I had to run with this before she realized the complexities of the situation and tried to talk me out of it. I signed and finalized all of my paperwork with the university over the next week and prepared for the excursion to England that would take place in September, 1992. There was so much preparation to be done from filing all of the paperwork, to packing my luggage and getting my passport completed.
I was so happy that my mother supported my travels. I understand why she did it. I knew that I carried her heart and spirit with me. I knew that my mother hoped that I experienced all of the things she never had the opportunity to do in her life. To this day, I know that everywhere I go, my mother’s heart is the one thing I always carry with me.